Weighty Issues

I should probably write the recap for my last race (and I will, I promise!) but today I prefer to discuss something that has been on my mind a great deal lately with PRs seemingly out of reach and swimsuit season all of a sudden upon us: weight.

I am certainly not the skinniest crayon in the box, and I guess if I were I wouldn’t be as consumed with counting calories or as worried about the level of butt jiggle that occurs when I run on down the road. In my life, I have ranged from a size 4 to a size 14; now, I’ve settled into an average size 8.  And that is just fine, I realize that, but also understand that if I lost just 10 more pounds, I would have a lot more ease when I run as well as when I put on a bathing suit.

Honestly, I would LOVE to look like this again: 

Who is this person and where did she go????

I couldn’t find too many pictures of myself at my heaviest- after having my second child, my weight rose close to 200 pounds and I avoided the camera pretty much constantly. Yes, I had 2 babies 12 months apart, of course I was going to gain some weight… getting rid of those baby pounds was so, so, so hard.

Ugh...

Me in 2007- close to 200 pounds and ready to do something about it!

I can say with 100% confidence that I am the most fit now than I have ever been. I’ve been exercising since junior high- Jazzercise was actually my first endeavor- did track and volleyball and took dance through high school, then step class followed by weights all through college. After college, my dad passed away and I was so consumed with grief that I stopped eating and got myself to such an unhealthy state with so much weight loss that I became vitamin deficient and anemic. I even began having seizures.  Once I finally sought help, I put some of the weight back on but didn’t chose to exercise.

After having my 2 kids, losing weight and exercising was an obvious necessity. I felt horrible, I looked horrible, and my eating habits were… horrible.

Now, I exercise 4-6 days a week and eat a very nutritious and well-rounded diet but because of my dedication to running and the ravenous hunger that often results, I have to make a heavy-duty-super-concentrated effort to eat less in order to lose weight but for someone like me, THAT IS SOOOOOO HARD!!!!!

Just remember, fat = flavor!

Just remember, fat = flavor!

I have been trained to love and appreciate good food and fine wine. I’ve worked in 5-star restaurants, I went to culinary school, I’ve been a caterer, I read cookbooks and food magazines cover-to-cover, and am always up-to-date on all the new and exciting restaurants that open in my city.  I’ve even had the pleasure of eating at some of the most amazing restaurants in the country, including The French Laundry.

I worked hard and studied a ton in order to have this kind of knowledge and palate, so, when I eat, I want The Best- sourced sustainably and cooked well. A plate of carrots and celery and a freaking rice cake is just NOT my idea of a good time. Limiting my calories to 1200 a day also seems incredibly annoying. I’m just not that good at depriving myself of tasty things and when I actually do, I’ll then binge in reaction.

I also celebrate with food. Whenever I finish a race and/or make plans socially, it usually revolves around what delicious things we will consume when we get there.  I try to tell myself, “Food is fuel! NOT fun, Laura!” But sometimes it is really fun to indulge and eat and drink all the things. It really, really is. Monday through Friday I can keep my foodie desires at bay, but come the weekend- after I’ve finished my long run, of course- all the rules go out the window and if anyone gets in the way of my bacon cheeseburger/gourmet cupcake/glass of favorite Pinot Noir, they will be wrestled immediately and directly to the ground.

That being said, in my heart I truly believe that life is way too short to avoid certain foods in an attempt to be as skinny as possible- I eat to be healthy, not skinny, and I’ll take good food and drink over weight loss any day! Looking cute in a bathing suit is certainly a concern but not really a motivator- whereas achieving a new PR is.

A little bathing suit shopping can't hurt either!

A little bathing suit shopping can’t hurt either!

I read somewhere that for every pound you lose, you gain 30 seconds of speed when you run. So, if I do the math I can easily figure out exactly how many pounds I need to lose to achieve a PR and that number is haunting to me as I haven’t had a PR in months…

On the other hand, I have also read that if you are slightly overweight, you have more fat to burn therefore more glucose storage therefore a little more endurance and stamina than someone who is underweight. Anyone who has toed a starting line and surveyed the runners around them will notice that leaner does not necessarily mean faster. Genes and experience play a huge role when it comes to running and racing (check out this Runner’s World article “Can You Be Fit & Fat?”) but being slightly overweight, I know that those extra pounds just make the run HARDER. You have more force hitting the ground, it’s harder on your ankles, knees and lower back, that’s just that.

I avoid the scale because I just can’t stand getting on the thing and seeing a number that does not reflect the way I feel- I can have a really good week where I get 6 days in of working out, control my portions, and fit fine into my skinny jeans but then step on the scale and not see any improvement in my weight. It just stays right THERE. And no, I am not going to tell you exactly how much I weigh so don’t even ask!

So, I guess I have to ask myself if I am truly motivated enough right now to lose weight in order to run better and easier because I honestly don’t feel overweight or unhealthy at all, I feel GREAT! As I age I realize my metabolism is slowing, I also realize that wine is a carbohydrate and fattening foods are just that- fattening. And, as I’ve explained, living the best life I can means, to me, allowing myself those culinary delicacies that I enjoy so very much.

Moderation is key- but is deprivation???

As a runner, do you do anything to keep your weight in check? Do you maintain a certain weight as a way to achieve your race goals? Do you “diet”? Is there anyone out there who could care less about weight gain or dieting and runs just to run and finish and cares nothing about a PR?

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8 thoughts on “Weighty Issues

  1. It’s such a constant struggle. And I hate hearing from my not so active friends “oh, you run, you can eat whatever you want.” Uh, no I can’t actually. For me it’s all about balance and moderation. I’m not going to not eat amazing food, period. I’m just not going to eat 5 pastries 5 days in a row. Balance. Great post Laura!

  2. I am trying to get down to 165 from 173 for this years Marine Corps Marathon. My biggest problem is, as I ramp up my training I am constantly hungry! Combine extreme hunger with working from home (constant supply of food and no one to stop you) and the weight is tought to get off.

    I am meeting with a nutritionist next week to talk about ways to manage my hunger, give my body the fuel it needs to train and gradually drop 8 pounds. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. Laura, I love this post. I completely agree. It is so easy to find a million things you’d like to change about yourself, but I too am not willing to give up eating and drinking delicious things just to drop to a weight that I perceive to be acceptable. This post came at the perfect time, so thank you SO much for this!

  4. Great post! I started running for the first time in my adult life 18 months ago, and lost 17 lbs within about 8 months (and ran 2 half marathons while I was at it!) Of course, I was also limiting my calorie intake. Now, though, I am still running (less distance though) and eating more, and I have put back about 5 of those lbs. I am realizing that just running is not enough anymore. I think I need to incorporate strength training because my body just doesn’t get the same workout it used to from running alone. I still count calories as a way to maintain my weight, but I try not to sweat about it as much. I haven’t worried about weight correlating to speed, through now that you mention it, I am slower than I was when I was 5 lbs lighter…

  5. Lots of good thoughts here. I love food, and I love to run. I’ve never been more fit and I’m 20 lbs overweight. I’m praying for peace with my body. I’m hoping with peace ill care less what the scale says. Oh, I just ran a 50k. It’d be cool to be lighter to get my time down…oh, well if it doesn’t happen this year.
    Thanks for a good post!

  6. I run because I love to run and because it feels good and I don’t care about PRs so much (sure, they’re exciting when the happen, but I usually don’t strive for them). Pounds on the scale don’t tell all either. I weigh more than some people 2 sizes larger than I am. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are fit, you may very well weigh more than you have in the past and still be thin. Sometimes I actually find I lose weight when I’m enjoying good food because I am more satisfied with a meal and thus eat less in the long run. 🙂

  7. What a great post. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I’m with you on eating to be healthy, not to be skinny. I haven’t weighed myself since I started training for running events. It’s been incredibly liberating. I feel very fit and no number on a scale can take that away from me.

  8. Fantastic post. I am exactly where you are on the whole thing. Would love to be skinnier but mainly for PR reasons and damned if I`m gonna do the whole weigh myself/diet thing but hey, maybe for Juneathon, I`ll blog, jog and just watch those portions.
    And hey, you`re blessed with natural beauty no matter what you`re weight.

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